February 1, 2015


Throughout each week, I like to work out at the gym, walk for an hour, and take ballet. Of the three activities, ballet is the hardest.  Ballet requires strength, balance, coordination, and focus.

One of the most challenging ballet poses is a passé.  This is when a dancer balances on one foot with the other leg opened wide to the side and the foot arched and pointed at the knee.  Looks easy, right? However, I can only balance for two to three seconds without holding onto the barre.  

In one class, I asked the instructor what the secret was to balancing in passé.  She said a dancer had to develop a strong core and be able to lift the body up from the legs, hips, trunk, shoulders and head.  That's a lot to think about. 

I was struck with the similarity of writing nonfiction for children and performing ballet because both seem easy to do and yet, that's hardly the truth.  Both take perseverance to do well.  

With ballet, dancers practice to make it look effortless. They take classes which begin at the barre with a series of movements that warm up and stretch the entire body, literally from head to toe. From there, they move to the center of the studio to perform a combination of steps, applying the principles of the barre without the aid of the barre. Lastly, the dancers move across the floor practicing turning and leaping. 

In writing children's nonfiction, authors must strive to educate a young audience within a tight word count (generally 500 words).  Writers don't rely on the Internet for research. They dig deeper to find primary sources and current studies.  They present research in a lively, creative manner to engage children.  Writers edit, edit, edit, until the piece flows, the word choices are perfect, and the meaning of complex concepts are simplified. And, writers put this all together in such as way as not to talk down to children.

I love doing ballet and writing for kids, but sometimes they are not always easy.  There are always challenges like doing a perfect passé or aiming to have an article published. Since I want to succeed at doing both, it takes hard work and dedication.  It takes time and practice. And as Victor Hugo once pointed out, it takes "perseverance, secret of all triumphs."

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